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Alex Baer

Pick a Drone, Any Drone

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It must be slow in the news business.  Or, maybe, some of the Bat Guano Madness of the GOP presidential candidates is rubbing off on the poor people forced to actually, physically stalk them, in person (not just Twitter-stalk them, as 9 out of 10 doctors would plainly advise in similar cases of such severe mental contagion, along with plenty of hand-washing after initial contact or voluntary self-neutralization following prolonged exposure).

Maybe news headline writers are having a contest as to which one can single-handedly boost the consumption of booze or tranquilizers.  Or the consumption of both -- even though we all know that such a sequence of events is a prescription to fall down without warning and not get back up again, no  matter how many emergency pull-chains you have installed throughout your home, business, or underground sanity bunker.

I mean, some headlines can sneak up on you and go off unexpectedly, like leaning, loaded shotguns jolted into self-awareness by gravity, or how hair-triggered coiled rattlesnakes can be, once irked at having their tails set upon by rockers or lawn chairs.

My lifelong exposure to news items has pretty well blistered my mind, insuring a cushion of dead tissue that usually keeps most of the remaining mass safely in place, no matter how jarring or penetrating the unfolding events.  Sometimes, though, my mind is folded and mutilated by events choosing to unfold themselves at arm's length -- going off in real time, almost, as I read about them.

These stories make me feel like I am working in the bomb squad, wrestling to defuse a five-story monster, all the while knowing I am putting in my last day -- my last 4 seconds! -- as a bomb squad tech, but giving it a brave go anyway...

Last Updated on Thursday, 02 July 2015 12:57 Read more...

Dear Greece, Please Call Iceland.

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A love letter to Greece seems an improbable mission for me, so far away, never having met her, never having chatted over coffee on the somewhat-mandatory, U.S.-style, daylight date in an aboveboard, public place...

But I can't help it.  I've seen the travel posters.  I've seen documentaries.  I've read books.  I'm in love.  I can't help it.

And here I am, locked away in a nearly insane country run by mouth-foaming, pinstripe-suited financiers and fiscal charlatans of all stripes -- except the cartoony prison sort wearing the broad bands of old-fashioned, black-and-white-striped suits...

... and there they are, the Greeks, with their long crossroads of history, with their many legendary gods and goddesses, blessed with an astonishing number of starkly gorgeous islands and brilliant ocean inlets washed in the colors of sea and sky, and with their earnest and good-humored, quick-to-smile folk, alongside a diet of dining and drink to die for...

And, me, here, landlocked in a brown, paved land of The Unending Big Mac, of Queens of Dairy-things, and of Kings of Burgers -- or is it Dairy Kings and Burger Queens? -- hoping to offer this centuries-old culture of cuisine and class some well-meaning advice, there in the Aegean, a hop and a skip from the heel of Italy, a short stride and a half-step away from what may be the most important gateway country of the modern era, in Turkey, where modernity has long met Muslims in a mostly modest, humane way, offering us all some lessons on how to behave...

Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 June 2015 13:13 Read more...

A Few Outbreaks of Sanity

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There are days when I imagine the main purpose of The News is to get our blood raging to check the strength of the vein walls, or to have us self-check the gnashing positions of our upper and lower jaws to test the limits of the bullets we're biting on, or maybe, to make us drag our funny bones out of storage to give them a random tickle and jolt, via a semi-vicious half Nelson.

These past couple days, checking the headlines, I think all of that is trying to happen at once.  No, it's OK -- I get it:  Life is simply trying to see how much Krazy it can stuff into the Klown Kars of Reality before everything goes Ka-Boom.

I dunno about you, but I always keep my leather bite tab handy.  See, mine doubles as the key fob on my set of keys that go to the Scream Room, the Isolation Tank, and the now-abandoned, 1950s-era, Anti-Armageddon Bunker.  (I closed off that last one a number of years ago.  It used to double as the Rumpus Room, but you just can't find high-quality Rumpus anymore -- about the same time Formica was no longer mined, and Naugas went extinct, and their hides got harder to find...)

Anyway:  If you were to put me under oath and ask how full the Klown Kar's getting, I'd be obliged to tell you we're gettin' purdy close to bein' all topped off and then some.

Before we have to go look around for roof racks, let's start off easy:

Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 June 2015 19:14 Read more...

Behold, a Season of Be's

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Getting warmer out there, near 100 by week's end, so that means it's getting warmer in here, too [tilts head, taps temple, nods knowingly].

The hotter it gets outdoors, the more bees I seem to have in my head, if not in my actual bonnet, or my pants, or elsewise stuck in other uncomfortable, compromising places that are on, in, or around my own highly-personal person.

Behold:  The coming and going of the longest day of the year!  Behold, the season of easy living!  (Well, once the inexorable, excremental, weekly yard work -- and the semi-satisfying begriping about it -- is all done.)

It is an unbenighted time that is now upon us -- not to get too tangled up in double reverses and triple negatives.  It the time of year in which one can be easily lulled into a false sense of bright promise, by day-dreamy heat-wave brain-fogs, further precipitated by such beclement hammock weather and by the planted seed of an ice cold beer, calmly betaken and beswigged, once necessary labors have been temporarily clubbed into submission.  Again.

I am becalmed, bemused, and besprinkled with summer's besmiting pixie dust.  I am also as behumbled as I can be, and beguiled and bemarveled -- and even bespoke, in point of fact -- plus, as a bewelcomed bonus, I am utterly and deeply beholden for such fine days.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 June 2015 10:16 Read more...

The Vanishing Art of Disappearing

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We are all time travelers.

I have come to this conclusion in a roundabout route, my usual method of making way from A to B, via a few scenic-tour handfuls of multi-cultural alphabets wrought from pen, paper press, and cuneiform tablet.

Art is the key. It is in art where most of us spend our free time, from soaking up opera to hand-tying flies for fishing, or whatever our fancy.  We are consumers of all things, now that we make almost nothing in this country, and art -- popular culture, if you'd prefer to call it -- is part of our voracious appetite.

(Even today's old-fashioned broadcast radio and television counts -- although, I am often unsure what it counts as -- buh-dum-dah.)

Art is where we go for relief from the routine world in which we find ourselves.  And, if we have any energy left over from just trying to survive, and have any interests to do so, we choose art as a platform on which we hope to stand, better understanding our world, ourselves, and trying to make some sense of this journey and this place -- maybe even other people, although we shouldn't get our hopes up too high.

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 June 2015 16:02 Read more...

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